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Have you heard of a social media term called ‘TAKEOVER’?


Are you familiar with ‘SPONSORED LENSES’


Did you know that SNAPCHAT reaches over 100 Million Young Adults EVERYDAY in the USA alone?

Snapchat, arguably the ‘4th’ most popular social media platform to come out of the brain trust of Silicon Valley has been quietly building an advertising platform based on the primary principle of ‘PURE FUN’.

2016 has been the largest year of ad revenue growth for Snapchat and the focus primarily has been large B2C vendors who are spending millions on custom campaigns based around a visual effect (Snap lenses) or targeted branding campaigns connected to a ‘product launch’ or ‘event sponsorship’.

But Instagram and Snapchat’s massive reach has also spawned an underground ‘Advertisment Economy’ that has garnered massive significance for new products and services targeted towards young adults.

And here is where Instagram/Facebook started to feel the effect of Snapchat’s unique platform and it’s popularity among the young adult segment where billions of marketing dollars are at stake.

Snapchat has captured the hearts of young adults and closed advertisment dollars based on innovative and fun experiences like the one here for Taco Bell. Anyone who downloads this lens can make their face look like a Taco on Snapchat.

This is the economy of ‘Takeovers’ and ‘Shout-outs’.

There are two types of marketing scenarios that happen in this largely unregulated marketplace:

Scenario 1 | ‘Shout-out’

Small to Medium Sized Consumer Products Looking for Branding and New Customer Acquisition


Shoutout for Fitness Supplement SHREDZ, founded by Arvin Lal – The company earned north of $5Million in Revenue from Instagram Marketing in 2014.

Advertiser: A brand (small to medium sized) company launching a new product into the market focused towards young adults. These can be consumer products, electronics, game companies or event organizers, etc.

Provider: These are generally Social Celebrities (i.e fitness models, glamour models, musicians and tv personalities) and ‘Social Channels’ (i.e large online publications, magazines and online TV accounts) who have built up a fanatic following of users who devour their every post and share.

The brand will ask the target account to do a ‘Shout-out’ for their brand or product to their audience. A shoutout is basically an on air or on picture promotion of endorsement of the ‘customer’ brand/products by the ‘target’ Snapchat/Instagram user.

  • Monetary terms for the ‘shout-out’ or a series of ‘shout-outs’ is discussed over email or phone and payments are made over Paypal or wire transfers.
  • Brands generally pick the target accounts based on the  demographic following of the targets Snapchat/Instagram account.
  • Successful target accounts are the ones who have either a very large following i.e. millions of followers on the social media channels OR have a very focused and moderately large following.

The target account executes the shout-out(s} and gets paid.

If the brand sees positive results like

  • a significant increase in their own social following
  • or a more direct ‘purchase goal’ based on exclusive coupon offers delivered by the target account

then they would generally become REPEAT customers till the target’s following is exhausted and shout-out results drop (at which point the customer moves on to another target).

Scenario 2 | ‘Takeover’

Publications/Marketing Firms Inviting ‘Social Media Celebrities’ to Host their Social Channels

Social Channel: An online publication (magazine) / social media marketing company – trying to build a strong following for themselves, to eventually become possible ‘Shout-out’ targets for product brands will reach out to Social Celebrities


@nikkirica doing a shouthout and a takeover for SHREDZ. Shoutout in the front screen, Takeover on Shredz Snapchat account in the back image. There is no way to save Snapchat videos except by the account owner.

Social Celebrity: Fitness models, glamour models, musicians and TV personalities with massive following on Instagram/Snapchat.

  1. The Social Channel will reach out a Social Celebrity and ask him/her to ‘Takeover’ one of their social streams for a specific time frame (up to a day).
  2. The Social Channel would share access to their Snapchat account by changing the password temporarily and sharing it with the Social Celebrity.
  3. The Social Celebrity would then spend a few hours up to a full day broadcasting herself/himself over the Social Channels Snapchat account.
  4. Before the actual date of the takeover, the Social Celebrity would heavily advertise the takeover to her own followers and the Social Channel would do the same to their own followers.
  5. The aim of the takeover is to provide an exclusive ‘show’ or ‘up close and personal’ experience with the Social Celebrity to get more followers for the Social Channel.
  6. Social Channels would try to do this with multiple Social Celebrities every week which creates variety of content for them and and ‘exchange’ of followers between the Social Celebrity and the Social Channel.
  7. In the case the Social Channel has a very small initial following, they would pay Social Celebrities to appear on their channels, but in the case of a larger 500,000 followers+ account, the takeover is generally a barter agreement.

Facebook’s Dilemma.

Till today (Aug 2nd 2016) Snapchat had a major advantage over Instagram in this scenario, due to its story flow interface. Creating a LIVE take over event on Instagram was not as interactive or exciting as a Snapchat TV like event. As brands started getting into takeovers it became apparent the Snapchat was the platform of choice for LIVE entertainment broadcasts.Even Twitter’s Periscope was not able to make a dent into Snapchat’s audience because of the fun interface that they had created, which is hugely favored by teenagers and young adults. Facebook tried to combat this with Facebook LIVE broadcasts, but the intense censorship of content that Facebook employed combined with the fact that Facebook is now the social media that is massively adopted by 50+ individuals prevented Facebook from capturing the imagination of the young adult demographic that Snapchat conquered.

On the other hand, the concept of shout-outs originated on Instagram and became a major source of income for Instagram Social Celebrities and a significant marketing channel for ‘Early Adopter’ and ‘Social Forward’ brands. Thousands of shout-outs for products ranging from protein bars, clothes, clubs, events and even digital products and services take place every day on Instagram and Snapchat. This is also where Snapchat started making a major DENT into Instagram’s share of digital marketing dollars.

Instagram videos were originally limited to 15 seconds, which made detailed shout-outs and longer video messages impossible (Instagram removed this limitation earlier this year). Snapchat’s video and picture streams had much larger impact by the very nature of the way they would automatically roll from one message to another… Basically Stories.

Above: Instagram Video Ad for Shredz – Has a generally less human connection than the Snapchat Video Streams that their ‘sponsored atheletes’ dole out on a regular basis.

Snapchat shout-outs would be a ‘custom endorsement advertisement stream’ – a combination of images and videos talking about the products and services, MIXED in with the Social Celebrities everyday posts. This created a situation akin to XFINITY ON-DEMAND where you get to see your favorite programs anytime you want, but you cannot fast forward the ads….

These stories could also paint a much stronger picture with actionable links and CTA’s painted and typed over a continuously changing stream of content, in place of Instagram’s 15 second videos which kept on playing in an infinite loop.

The Snapchat Domino Effect:

  • More and more shout-outs started happening on Snapchat and it resulted in these social celebrities focusing their energies on building a bigger Snapchat following and focusing a little less on Instagram.
  • This in turn started affecting overall Instagram usage, because these Social Celebrities would send out 1 or 2 images or small (and tame) videos on Instagram per day, but would basically be LIVE on Snapchat ALL DAY LONG.  The followers of these target accounts and social celebrities would check on their updates 10 to 20 times a day to keep in touch with their lives/happenings.
  • As young people started logging into Instagram (and Facebook) less, it’s daily reach started decreasing. (Reach is separate from users)
  • This started affecting it’s ability to stay ahead of Snapchat when it came to daily impressions from teenagers and young adults in the US.
  • The increased eyeballs in turn helped Snapchat start closing commercial advertising deals with large brands which previously only considered Facebook and Instagram as the serious B2C social media business conversion platform.
  • Facebook tried to compete with longer videos and LIVE transmission and also products like ‘Lead Ads’ but by then Snapchat had released features like custom lenses, overlay filters, masks and on video text scribbles which increased the ‘contextual strength’ of Snapchat content/ads/shoutouts over simple videos, slides and pictures.

The brains at Facebook were aware of this threat very early on and hence Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3B in 2013…

But as of 2nd of August 2016, its all out war for the fastest growing visual advertisement format for this generation. The generation of NOW!

And oh… YouTube, You are are so 2010!


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